Dan Misener likes the radio

Among other things, Dan is a public radio producer.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Price is Right

If you've not downloaded Mackie's Tracktion software, you should do it now -- the free download ends December 31. I've been using this program for a few weeks now, and can't recommend it enough.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

iPod -- MiniDisc killer?

Via iPoding -- iPod-Linux Installer 0.3a Released. According the manual, "Podzilla now supports Voice Recording for the 3rd Generation iPods (Dock connector + touch wheel)." This in and of itself isn't all that exciting, but when you read on -- "The format for recording is 44.1 kHz uncompressed RAW." Wow! That sure is better than the 8kHz, 16 bit mono files that the Apple firmware limits you to. The iPod community has known for a long time that the device is capable of much higher-quality recordings:
Before Apple released new firmware and Belkin released the Voice Recorder, much was made of the 3G iPod's technical capabilities for audio recording. On paper, the 3G iPod could actually sample audio at CD-quality rates (thanks to Wolfson's older 8731 chip) and record it in MP3 format (thanks to PortalPlayer's earlier 5002 chip). But when Apple released new firmware, the iPod was limited to sampling audio at unimpressive, voice only-quality rates, and recording in uncompressed WAV format.
The Linux on iPod featureset isn't 100% yet, but this does indeed look promising. I'd love to carry around a single, all-digital recording solution with virtually unlimited capacity. Update: Just read Jordan Carter's review of Linux on the iPod, and he calls the recording capability "a remarkable feature, unfortunately limited only to 3G iPods. A friend with Linux on his 3G demonstrated this to me - and it's mind-blowing."

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Interviewing: BBC versus NPR

Jon Carroll on the difference between NPR and BBC radio interviews: "The BBC style of interviewing is very different from the NPR style; there's a lot less sucking up, and a lot more veiled allegations under the thinnest veneer of civilized discourse."

Monday, December 20, 2004

Weird coincidence

Re-listened to the "Bullies" episode of Wiretap last night before going to bed. The episode featured John Hodgman talking about winning. After the episode was over, I picked up the copy of Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans that Carmody gave me for Christmas, and turned to where I'd left off. Strangely enough, the next piece was "Fire: The Next Sharp Stick?" by none other than John Hodgman. Weird.

CBC Toronto job opportunity

Not related specifically to CBC Radio, but a good opportunity nonetheless. This one appeared in my inbox thrice today -- once from Marion Coomey (via John McQuaker), and twice again from Liz Gesicki. Spoke earlier in the day to John, and have already sent off a cover letter and resume.
Encoder Duties include: monitoring CBC Newsworld TV channel to record and process reports / pictures for use on CBC.ca/news website, searching CP photo website to purchase pictures for CBC use, processing purchased and captured images in Photoshop software for use on the web. Transferring various media files to the server via an FTP program and AnyStream software (will train).  Consulting with journalists to illustrate their stories with the best audio/video media possible.  Writing cutlines for reports and pictures. Writing headlines for business partner media items (not CBC items). Knowledge of the internet, FTP, and Photoshop software. Hours (in general) Sat -Sun 3:15 PM - 10:45 PM  plus  some holidays / vacation coverage. Contact: Mary Sheppard at Mary_Sheppard@CBC.CA

Monday, December 13, 2004

Radio Scoring

Glass on music:
Generally the kind of music we use is more emotionally neutral. Its goal is more to keep a sense of motion, to keep things moving. And to underline the turns in feelings. I'm not against manipulating feelings. The whole job is about manipulating feelings. If you don't get in front of that and embrace it with a big bear hug, you're not doing your job as a radio producer. You just don't want to be all corny about it.
I like music. When I'm looking for a piece of music to play under a radio piece, I often look to movie soundtracks. As do many others. I hear a lot of Mark Mothersbaugh's work from Rushmore and The Royal Tennenbaums on This American Life and (not surprisingly) Wiretap. Also, I often recognize music from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Amelie underneath CBC radio promos. Soundtrack music is so often instrumental, and because it's usually written to play under voices, is perfect underneath radio stories. So I was delighted today to read about the release of The Life Aquatic OST. The reviews look good so far. Other instrumental music I like for scoring:

Lappy 486

Just watched this week's Strongbad, all about Radio. Brilliant.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Private Misener

Two job shadows this past week – one with Kevin Trudell at CFMX, and another with reporter Kevin Misener (no relation) at 680 News. And more and more, I’ve been thinking about working in the private radio world. I came to Toronto last year with my sights set solely on the CBC, and I’m now thinking otherwise. Starting in the privates might not be such a bad idea. Every CBC exec I’ve talked to is looking for reporting skills and hard news experience. And though I’ve done several short doc pieces (morning show fare), I’ve never done any real "reporting." And short of actually doing it, there’s no real way for me to get that type of experience. So if the CBC won’t hire me without these skills, why not try to get a job at a place that might help me develop them? Like 680 or CFRB? From what I’ve seen, private radio deadlines would be great for someone like me. Having to churn out a report every 30 minutes is tough enough, but having to tell the same story several ways in under 40 seconds each time – well, that’s enough to hone anybody’s chops. A prof at Dalhousie once told me that the best way to get good at reading is to read, and the best way to get good at writing is to write. I think the same holds true for radio. I’d love to do an internship at 680 (in addition to Metro Morning) – it would be a great way to see the inside of a newsroom on a regular basis, and it wouldn’t look too bad on a resume either. But, once again, because my program doesn’t have a mandatory internship policy, I can’t intern at 680 because of insurance issues. However, I did do a couple of demo newscast reads at 680 with a woman named Anne Lavrih. She was wonderful, and apparently she’s going to play my demo for the higher-ups when they’re looking to staff the new Rogers News/Talk station in Halifax. Plus, Kevin mentioned to me that there might be spots available as an audio editor at 680. So all hope isn’t lost. I’m feeling like I need to focus my energies, but I don’t know where. In many ways, it’s the same question I’ve always had – do I stay or do I go? And now on top of that, another question – public or private?

Thursday, December 09, 2004


Hurrah! Finally, RSS feeds from cbc.ca. I'm subscribed to Canadian News, World News and Arts News, plus the regional Toronto and Nova Scotia feeds. Right now it seems to be headlines only, no summaries. But it's still a whole lot better than the old headlines service. I subscribe using Bloglines. You can subscribe to my site, too.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Finding a job when I graduate

Soon, my thoughts will turn to demo reels and resumes. Last year I peppered the east coast with shiny discs, and looking back, I wish I'd known about Broadcast Dialogue's Broadcast Directory Search. It lists Canadian radio stations geographically, and gives you contacts, staff listings, corporate ownership information, and the date the info was last updated. Lots of private radio contacts, but sadly, bare-bones CBC info. But... the CBC publishes a little pamphlet called Wondering Where to Find Us: Frequency Guide 2003/2004. The information is almost identical to the frequency guide online, with an important exception: CBC production centres have an asterisk next to them. So, if you're looking for a job as a CBC Radio producer, it's probably a good idea to know the names of the higher-ups at these stations.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Listening to CBC Radio online

Often, if I hear something on the CBC that I'd like to record, or if I want to "time-shift" radio, I simply wait a while and pick up an online feed from the next time zone over. And for the geographically challenged, this list of direct URLs beats the pants off the regular map of stations that stream.

Superpowers and Pre-Christmas plans

Finally got my Sean Ward piece in the can this week. I showed up at the CBC this Tuesday, and with the help of Nick Davis, whittled my 6:10 mix down to something like 4:40. Nick is the third CBC producer I’ve worked with, and I always find it helpful to work with someone who’s not as attached to my material as I am. To paraphrase Trevor Ross, Nick has a keen ear and sharp pair of scissors. Sean is having a release party for his new book this Sunday. And though it’s a shame the piece won’t air before then, at least there’s a nice timely trigger for it to be played. Tonight I listened to the Transom front page story Family Sentence by Jeanne Cornillot, which feature a character who, like Sean, fancies himself a superhero. This made me think of one of my favourite This American Life episodes, Superpowers, which features the great first act Invisible Man vs. Hawkman. Tomorrow is my last day of classes, but I’m stuck here in Toronto until the 15th, when I write my Case Studies in Communications exam. I’ve been compiling a list of radio-related things to do in the meantime. It includes:
  1. Finally finishing up my polka story. I’ve been pursuing a woman named Jennifer Grant at the Textile Museum of Canada. I think there are four messages on her voicemail from me.
  2. Starting on a “just for fun” Christmas-themed piece about the Bay and its holiday slogan: “The Official Store of Christmas.” How do you get to be the official store of Christmas? I contacted the Bay PR yesterday. The woman there said she’ll do some research and get back to me. Something tells me I’ll have to hound her. I’d love to get a statement from somebody at the Bay explaining how exactly you get accredited as the official store of Christmas. Also, I’d like to get some streeters – people checking out the famous downtown Bay (formerly Simpson’s) store windows.
  3. Job shadows. I’ve got one set up for Classical 96.3 for this coming Tuesday with Kevin Trudell, and I’ve been talking with Anne Lavrih at 680 about shadowing Kevin Misener.
  4. Putting together a killer newscast for my demo reel. Dwight Smith has agreed to listen to whatever I come up with and critique it.
Should keep me busy.